Global Environment Facility - Small Grants Programme

30 years of war and unchecked logging have left ‪#Afghanistan‬ with some of the most polluted air in the world. Now UNDP, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme are trying to reverse the damage with projects to protect natural parks and forested areas, because more trees mean cleaner air. Credit: UNDP Afghanistan / Rob Few

Afghanistan’s environment and natural resource base is under great pressure. Of Afghanistan’s 655,000 square kilometers of total land area, only 12% (7.9 million hectares) is arable. An additional 45% is rangeland under permanent pastures, less than 3% under forest cover, with the remaining 39% being mountainous. It is estimated that between 1978 and 2002 alone, the area under conifer forests in the eastern part of the country has been reduced by 50 percent. 

Afghanistan is known as one of the countries with the lowest ability to retain and utilize its water resources.   Climate change implications are now quite visible in precipitation and temperature regime resulting in prolonged and more frequent droughts and floods.  Biodiversity appears to be declining at an accelerating rate throughout Afghanistan.  Overgrazing and shrub collection for fuel is markedly reducing plant biomass and altering plant communities.

The National Environmental Law aims to improve the quality of life of the people of Afghanistan through conservation, protection and improvement of the country’s environment.


Launched in 1992, the Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) SGP addresses  global environmental problems with a people-centred approach that benefits local people and generates direct community benefits and ownership.

In line with Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) where environment has been referred to as a cross-cutting issue, the GEF-SGP in Afghanistan provides support to various types of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including Community Based Organizations (CBOs), indigenous peoples organizations, women’s organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the GEF focal areas of Biodiversity, Climate Change, Land Degradation, Sustainable Forest Management, International Waters and Elimination of Harmful Chemicals.

In Afghanistan, the SGP will support small scale projects relating to the GEF focal areas, for activities that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods, taking into consideration gender, vulnerability and equality concerns.

The SGP operates in a decentralized and country-driven manner through a National Coordinator (NC) and National Steering Committee (NSC). The NSC is composed of members from NGOs, academic and scientific institutions, other civil society organizations, the UNDP CO, and government, with a majority of members coming from the non-governmental sector.

The NSC provides overall guidance and direction to the country programme, and contributes to developing and implementing strategies for country programme sustainability.

What have we accomplished so far?

  • GEF SGP has been operational in Afghanistan since its launch on 23rd October 2012.
  • A National Steering Committee (NSC) that provides guidance and technical oversight to the implementation of the Small Grants Programme has been established.
  • The Stakeholders consultation workshop on country Programme Strategy has been convened.
  • The Country Programme Strategy (CPS), which provides the framework on how to implement the Small Grants Programme in Afghanistan has been drafted, shared with all stakeholders, finalized and approved by SGP’s NSC and Central Programme Management Team (CPMT).
  • Concepts have been screened and shortlisted by Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
  • NGOs/CBOs’s have been notified to develop their detailed proposals.
  • Accepted proposals from the shortlisted NGOs/CBOs have been presented to National Steering Committee (NSC) for approval.
  • So far, 21 projects in SGP focal areas have awarded to NGOs/CBOs in different provinces (Kabul, Badakhshan, Bamyan, Nangarhar, Kunar, Faryab and Panjshir).
  • Seven projects have been successfully completed with positive tangible results in the field.
  • Capacity of more than 200 Civil Society Organisations has been enhanced on SGP GEF Focal areas, which includes Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change Mitigation, Prevention of Land Degradation, Sustainable Forest Management, Protection of International Waters and Elimination of Harmful Chemicals and result based management and proposal development.
At a Glance
Start Date:
October 2012
End Date:
December 2014
Implementing Partner:
Executed by:
Key Partner:
National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA)
Budget (2 years):
USD $2,260,000
Open Data

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